9 Toys To Help Kids Work Through Emotions
Feelings like anger, grief, pain and even intense excitement are overwhelming even for adults. For children, who do not yet have the emotional or neurological development to understand or handle these kinds of feelings, such emotions can be even more overwhelming. Of course, all adults were once children, so you may even remember struggling with intense feelings as a kid yourself.
It is a parent’s responsibility to help guide their child toward an understanding of their emotions and the reality that difficult feelings can come and go. Yet even with the best intentions, it can be hard to know where to begin. I spoke to therapists who specialize in emotional regulation and trauma to help you get started.
Children’s emotions are valid responses to their experiences, said California-based associate marriage and family therapist Yara Mawad via email. So validating your little one, especially when they are overwhelmed by their feelings, is crucial, no matter how small a given situation may seem to you as an adult.
In order to best support children, parents must work on themselves and model feeling their own feelings to their kids, said Los Angeles-based licensed marriage and family therapist David Ibrahim. Ibrahim and Mawad spoke highly of child psychiatrist and author Dr. Dan Siegel’s work as a resource for parents; Mawad also recommended Dr. Becky Kennedy’s book, “Good Inside.”
They also both recommended parenting classes. “If I was an athlete, I wouldn’t pause for a moment to go hire a coach…,” Ibraham noted. “I’m not going to try and learn everything on my own.” The moral of the story? Don’t hesitate to get the support you need as a parent — it’ll only help your child and your relationship with them.
Based on their work with children and adults, these experts recommended everything from therapist-developed stuffed animals and books to blowing bubbles and journaling as tools to help support your child’s emotional journey. If your little one seems to be particularly struggling, especially with issues like grief or trauma, we recommend seeking help from a child therapist.
Read on for expert recommendations on items to help boost your child’s social emotional development.
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“The Color Monster” illustrated book
Markarian also recommended Anna Llenas’s “The Color Monster.” Geared to ages 3–7, this picture book helps teach kids about emotions in an accessible, intuitive way by depicting feelings as colors (like green for calm and red for anger). It’s available as a hardcover, paperback, board book or through Kindle.